Sinn Féin spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD described tonight’s vote to adopt the Sinn Féin motion on the annexation of Palestinian lands by Israel as an historic moment, a victory for justice, and a recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
The Wicklow TD said:
“I wish to convey my thanks to the members of the Dáil who have voted unanimous support for the Sinn Féin motion, to the co-signatories to the motion, the Labour Party, the Social Democrats, and the various independent TDs.
“I also want to express my gratitude to Trócaire, Sadaka, Christian Aid, Al Haq, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and the other members of the Oireachtas who have worked with us in developing this motion.
“For tonight, the Irish people have secured an historic victory for the people of Palestine.
“The decision by the members of the Dáil to vote to accept the Sinn Féin motion on annexation is a sure reflection of the strength of feeling that runs in this country at the treatment of the Palestinian people by the apartheid state of Israel.
“Ireland now stands as the first country in Europe to categorically state without equivocation that Israel has carried out the crime of annexation in the occupied Palestinian Territories.
“The respected international groups, Al Haq, Human Rights Watch, and B’Tselem have placed before the world the undeniable evidence that the state of Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.
“I still recall my pride in our country when in the 1980s, the Dunnes Stores Workers took the decision to strike, and run the risk of losing their jobs, rather than handle produce from the apartheid state of South Africa.
“Today, in an article on last night’s debate on the Sinn Féin motion, I read an article on Al Jazeera that described this moment as ‘a landmark on the road to isolating an apartheid state as we did in the 1980s’ such is the importance of what has been achieved here tonight.
“But I need to stress that this is more than mere symbolism. Annexation is a crime under international law.
“Such is the importance attached to what has occurred today, that the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territory Occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk, felt compelled to write to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, in advance of last night’s debate imploring the Irish government to act to recognise that de facto annexation has taken place.
“The Irish people have pushed the government over the line. The recognition that de facto annexation has taken place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is now the formal position of Ireland.
“The Irish people, through the Dáil, have stated that Israel is guilty of the crime of annexation.
“The significance of the victory in getting the Irish government to acknowledge that annexation has taken place is enormous.
“It is now incumbent upon the Irish government to accept the imprimatur of the Irish people and take this motion and press for action in the EU, and for action on the UN Security Council on this issue.
“By shifting the discourse away from the outdated colonial discourse that has been allowed to prevail for decades, and which has been used to give licence to the concept of Israeli exceptionalism, a discourse which is satisfied to allow Israel to attempt to justify its acts of violence against innocent Palestinian civilians, and to receive a dispensation, an exemption if you like, from the international community for its deliberate targeting of civilians.
“We have stated clearly in this motion, and in our commentary on this motion, that we wish to frame a fresh discourse on the conflict, a discourse which focuses on the primacy of international law.
“And under the law there must be accountability.
“And now the international community must be pressured into holding Israel to account for the treatment of Palestinian civilians, and the destruction of their homes and infrastructure.
“The Irish government must act to introduce the Occupied Territories Bill. It must recognise the state of Palestine.
“It must ensure that Israel is held accountable for its action by the international community.
“Hopefully other countries can follow Ireland’s lead, and take this motion as a template to use in their own parliaments.”